|Actors stage Monikahini at Sujata Sadan. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
There was a time when holidays got the young and the young-at-heart busy with scripting and enacting plays for friends and family. A chowki or a raised part of the courtyard became the stage. Treasured silks, brocades and precious bits of grownup makeup were surreptitiously used to dress kings, queens and pirates. Bed sheets did for curtains and cardboard bits shaped into swords and shields.
Today few families are big enough to be split into actors and audience, both children and parents are hard pressed for time. But that hasn’t stopped children from trying out false moustaches or romping around in ‘magic cloaks of invisibility’? Thankfully, there are plenty of theatre schools for children to get the much-needed professional guidance.
Starting June 1, actor-director Kaushik Sen will hold theatre classes every Sunday from 9 am to 12 noon at Sujata Sadan (No 7, Hazra Road). Children from Classes II to VIII can join in for Rs 500.
Those who dropped in at Nandikar’s Child-friendly theatre festival (May 22-25, at Academy of Fine Arts and Girish Manch) will have seen two plays with a difference.
Performers Gunilla and Ipek of Tyst theatre, Sweden used no verbal dialogues but Frog Prince and Three Little Piglets — communicated through gestures and images — was just as enjoyable. Two new plays from Nandikar, Tomar Naam and Ghnaghyasur, that were staged twice during the festival will have more shows in the coming weeks.
Tomar Naam, written and directed by Swatilekha Sengupta and enacted by daughter Sohini, presents the travails of a shy girl in an aggressive world and her escape to an imaginary world. In Ghnaghyasur, a rendition of Upendrakishore Roy Chowdhury’s fantasy, (directed by Biswajit Ghosh Majumdar) farmer’s boy Manik is confronted by wile court officials who pepper his path with impossible tasks so as to stop him from winning half the kingdom and the princess’ hand.
Pil-pil-pil, Sotti Rajputro and SMS-E-Eshu, produced by Nandikar are based on stories of Satyajit Ray and Sunil Gangopadhyay. They have a cast of over 200 — all members of the Nandikar children’s wing.
Nirbak Abhinay Academy has just launched Monikahini a play based on Saradinidu Bandopadhyay’s story. Directed by Suranjana Dasgupta, its plot celebrates youthful love and courage and is presented by a bunch of teenagers: Sovan, Sonal, Suman, Sanjoy, Argha, Tarak, Souvik, Akshoy, Abhijit, Kuldeep,Sangeeta, Srestha, Kabita, Manashi, Kathakali, Soumit.
The tale drawn from the Mahabharata refers to the gem Samantaka which brought its finder Satrajit not only wealth but the fear of losing it. The hero, Krishna, bravely rescues the gem but doesn’t care for it as much as he does for Satrajit’s daughter Satyabhama. The play will be staged on every fourth Friday.
Salute to Sukumar Ray
Earlier this month, Nandipot recreated the hilarious world of Sukumar Ray through their drama, Cawh, at Girish Mancha. Loosely based on Ray’s immortal characters, Cawh proved to be a wonderful watch for tiny tots and parents alike. Directed by Bimal Chakraborty, its main plot revolves round Pagla Dashu assisting a royal search for the kidnapped princess of Bombagor. But Dashu also has another agenda. He is on the lookout for ‘Drighanchu’, a mysterious big, black crow. The subplots include characters like Chondidaser khuro, Hukumukho Hangla, and Kumro Potash. Through comedy, the play conveys a serious message about overpopulation, terrorism and corruption.
Arnab Nandy, Serampore College